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Personalities: Big Swede

By Jenni Simcoe
Published: Friday, November 05, 2010, at 11:08AM
Big Swede Jenni Simcoe

On any given day walking down Spring Street, there’s a tall blonde guy grabbing coffee at Syrup. His name is Stefan Svensson, but neighbors know him as “Big Swede.”

JENNI SIMCOE: You’re tall, but how did you get the name “Big Swede”?

BIG SWEDE: I’m just under 6’5”. Rod Jackson, the former lead singer for Slash’s Snakepit, started calling me Swede and then Reeves Gabrels said, “no you’re “Big Swede.” I also go by “B.S.”

JS: What do you do for a living?

BS: I compose and write music, produce artists and produce custom sounds for TV shows like NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and CSI: Miami.

JS: What kinds of custom sounds for TV shows?

BS: It’s character driven. For NCIS, I compose sounds for Abby, the girl who’s in the lab looking at evidence. They asked me if I could produce an electronic sort of sound for her character for different scenes.

JS: So do you only work in television?

BS: Last year I was working with a dance DJ, Les Hemstock, from London and when I was working with him I wanted to do trance/club genre myself and release a record like that. So I just released a double CD of my own music called “B.S. In Da Club.” On this record, I wrote all of the lyrics and I have Rod Jackson singing. This one is released under my studio label, Big Swede Studios’ label along with four others. It’s available on iTunes and Amazon. We shot the video for “Aliens In Hollywood” Downtown and in Hollywood. About 80 percent of it was shot Downtown.

JS: How long have you been doing music?

BS: I was six or seven when I started with classical piano lessons in Sweden. I used to play Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg, Nielson, all that classical stuff. I did a lot of concerts back then. My mother used to play. I used to sit and listen to an old tape player when I was five, from classical to the Beatles. I wanted to play drums, but the teacher wanted me to learn how to count first. So I was 10 when I started the drums and that was my passion. That’s what I did until I moved to America when I was 27. I was obsessed with drums from when I was a kid until I got into production a few years ago. Now it’s more interesting for me to do the whole picture instead of just playing drums for someone else’s song. I wanted to do more.

JS: So when you moved to America, what did you do for a living?

BS: When I moved here 14 years ago, I played sessions for television shows, on records for different producers on my way up. I had my share of Ramen noodles then.

JS: How did you learn to produce?

BS: I had never tweaked a knob or fader. But I was obsessed with it, so I didn’t go out for days then. I went to the school of hard knocks. I started to record songs. I had a creative explosion. Downtown was a perfect match for what I was wanting to do.

JS: How did you end up Downtown?

BS: I was looking for a place to set up a recording studio in 2001 and I was looking everywhere…somewhere where I could sit all day and do this without going loco. I looked in North Hollywood, Los Feliz, Hollywood, but it was boring to be in a place with four walls. When I came downtown and I had a skyline in front of me, it felt like I was in New York. There’s nothing else like this energy in L.A. It used to be a ghost town here after 7pm. But the change has been unbelievable. It was more underground before. It was hard-core, but interesting and that went with my music. I love the bars and cafés here. I don’t want it to become an L.A. Live. Let’s keep that there and keep this neighborhood for locals.

JS: Do you open your studio to other Downtown artists?

BS: I would if they were cool and doing something that I liked. It’s a nice break to collaborate once in a while but I’ve collaborated with a lot of artists over the years.

JS: Who have you collaborated with?

BS: I work with Reeves. I write with him and collaborate with him a lot. Another record I did, a heavy metal record, called X-World To The Fifth Power was an interesting record that I did here and in Sweden, with Reeves and my two best friends in Sweden. On Razorball, I worked with Reeves, Rod Jackson and Greg Hampton, a producer-songwriter that has produced Alice Cooper and Ron Wood from the Stones. I also did custom made sounds for Van Halen’s 2007-08 tour. They used it for warm-up intro music before they went out on stage. It was fun to do something with them because it was one of the first bands I listened to growing up. I was influenced by them, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and the list goes on and on.

JS: So who are your dream collaborations with?

BS: Well, if I was dreaming Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. Living artists, I’d love to work with The Prodigy, Massive Attack, Madonna and AC/DC. That would be my dream!

Watch Big Swede’s Aliens In Hollywood music video at bigswedestudios.com.

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